12 Mysterious and Dramatic Natural Wonders of Russia

To the rest of the world, Russia has often been cloaked in mystery, with political affairs clouding our sense of what this sprawling nation in northern Eurasia is really like. Putting aside its Soviet past, Russia is now much more accessible to outsiders, but its very size and the remoteness of much of its territory still mean that much of it goes unseen. These 12 natural sights, from the vast Golden Mountains of Altai in Southern Siberia to the sandy Curonian Split on the Baltic Sea coast, represent just a fraction of the beauty that this nation has to offer.

The Golden Mountains of Altai

(images via: wikimedia commons)

A vast area that includes the Altai and Katun Natural Reserves, Lake Teletskoye, Belukha Mountain and the Ukok Plateau, the Golden Mountains of Altai is one of the most jaw-dropping natural sights of Russia. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Golden Mountains are home to endangered species like the snow leopard and the Altai Argali, the largest species of sheep in the world. Located in Southern Siberia, this region is very difficult to access, and some areas are so remote, they can only be reached by helicopter. The Altai Mountains include about 1,500 glaciers, and ridges that represent the highest point of the Arctic Ocean watershed.

Lena’s Stone Forest

(image via: wikimedia commons)

These images hardly do justice to the beauty of the Lena Pillars, also known as Lena’s Stone Forest or the Stone Forest of Yakutsk (see some fantastic photos at Worldwide Travelling). The natural rock formations lining the banks of the Lena River in far eastern Siberia have been separated from the rock further inland by erosion. Because there are so few amenities in this part of the world, most of the people who get to view them do so from a cruise ship along the river.

Lake Baikal

(image via: sergey, wikimedia commons)

The oldest and deepest lake in the world – not to mention one of the clearest – Lake Baikal is truly one of Russia’s must-see natural features. It contains about 20% of the world’s unfrozen surface fresh water and reaches 5,387 feet into the earth at its deepest point. Two-thirds of its 1,700 species of plants and animals don’t exist anywhere else in the world. Referred to as the ‘Pearl of Siberia’, Lake Baikal is a popular tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Valley of Geysers

(image via: wikimedia commons)

Found in the Kronotsky national reserve in Kamchatka, the far-eastern peninsula of Russia known for its volcanoes, contains about 90 geysers and many hot springs. Unfortunately, the region’s most popular tourist attraction suffered heavy damage in a massive landslide in 2007, with some fearing that the geysers would be wiped out altogether. The landslide, likely caused by an earthquake, had blocked the Geyser river. Once the mud and waters receded, however, the geysers reappeared.

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